DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said he is focused on the large role he’s expected to play for the team Sunday against the New England Patriots and not on talk of a trade.
“I’m a big part of this week’s game plan, so I’m just going to go out and give my all to this team because I am a Miami Dolphin,” Fitzpatrick said, while declining to discuss details about his trade request. “I can’t focus on the trade and this and that. I just have to focus on being my best right now and that’s it.”
Fitzpatrick’s representatives have been given permission by the Dolphins to seek a trade, sources told ESPN Thursday. The team did not confirm that Friday, but coach Brian Flores addressed the issue with reporters who asked about the story.
Fitzpatrick, the 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Alabama, is unhappy about playing multiple positions and has been for several weeks, sources told ESPN.
Flores declined to discuss whether he believes Fitzpatrick will remain in Miami throughout the season, but he indicated that he believes the situation has a chance to be resolved.
“I don’t think it’s unusual,” Flores said about a player wanting out yet still playing with the team. “Minkah is a good player. We’ve talked about his role all week. He’s going to be a part of the game plan. I think he’s going to go out there and play well, to be honest with you.
“Repair, I don’t know if that’s the word I would use. I don’t think anything is broken,” Flores said. “I’ve had this kind of similar situation and others in the past, so I think we’ll be able to move past it and move through it. I think as an organization, we’ll be fine.”
Joel Segal, the agent for the defensive back, has been in contact with a number of teams.
Teams initially have been resistant to the Dolphins’ apparent asking price, which includes a first-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Fitzpatrick was beaten for at least two touchdowns in Sunday’s 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Dolphins’ defense allowed Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw for 324 yards and five touchdowns. A source told ESPN that Fitzpatrick believes that playing three to four different positions Sunday played a role in his struggles.
Fitzpatrick has performed best as a slot corner in his NFL career but often has been asked to play in the box as a strong safety, linebacker or edge rusher. He’s been uncomfortable with some of those roles and his constantly fluctuating role on the Dolphins’ defense throughout the offseason.
Fitzpatrick said his conversations with Flores this week were about the game plan, in which he expects to do multiple roles like he has in past weeks. Fitzpatrick is in line to be a full-time player this week with veteran safety Reshad Jones ruled out with an ankle injury.
Fitzpatrick admitted there was “a little frustration” that his trade request and approval to seek it got out in the media, but “I have to shift my focus to what’s important. I can’t focus on the trade talks and everything else like that. I have to focus on the New England Patriots, my teammates, my coaches and this week’s game plan.”
Fitzpatrick said if his teammates have any questions, “they know to ask me. I don’t think I have to say anything directly to them.”
Many Dolphins players had heard the news when they got into practice Friday. They were preparing as if Fitzpatrick is still one of the guys headed into Sunday against New England.
“That’s how he feels. If that’s how you feel, I’m not going to fault you for feeling a certain type of way,” said safety Bobby McCain. “We’d love to have him here. I know he’s a great player. But if that’s how he feels, you’re your own man. Regardless of all things going on, we all got to be ready to play Sunday.
“Minkah loves football. So I know he’s going to be all-in. I would never question that. At the end of the day there is a business end to football.”
Flores said he’s been in similar situations before, bringing up Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who Flores said left the team in free agency to join the Eagles in 2013 because he was unhappy with his role in New England before returning to the team in 2014.
“That whole thing turned around,” Flores said about the Chung matter. “This is not my first go-around with a situation like this. It turned out well with Patrick and I have an incredible relationship with him. Things change, quickly. We know that to be the case in this league. We will just see how this thing shakes out.”
The Dolphins have Fitzpatrick, a hybrid defensive back out of Alabama drafted largely for his versatility, under team control until at least 2022 with his fifth-year option. Miami doesn’t seem deadset on trading him but it’s worth wondering how realistic it is to keep a player who doesn’t want to be there.
Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore said earlier this week, “If you don’t want to be here, I don’t want you here,” in response to players potentially wanting out of Miami.
Flores said he wasn’t irritated by Fitzpatrick asking for a trade, but he noted “in a team sport, you do what’s best for the team.”
In addition to Fitzpatrick’s trade demand, the Dolphins are also trying to sort out their injury situation. Starting right tackle Julien Davenport has been placed on injure reserve with foot and knee injuries. Davenport was acquired as part of the Laremy Tunsil trade.
Miami will be without wide receiver Albert Wilson for Sunday’s game due to a calf/hip injury, as well.